15 Ways to Show Love in Burkina

March 6, 2011 at 10:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

1) Always sharing your food

2) Offering water when they arrive

3) Having clothes made out of matching pagne

4) Never letting a friend walk through marche sans dolo

5) Giving cadeau in marche

6) Never letting them sit on the ground / always giving the chair, mat, stool, rock….

7) Giving a morceau of meat at a meal

8) Keeping their cat alive

9) Discounts on manure

10) Lending a daba, and not being upset when it is returned broken

11)  Watering their garden when they are out of town

12) Carrying their bag to classes

13) Taking their cell phones to get charged in marche

14) Sending little brothers to do work around their house

15) Bringing over a hot dish to a friend


Burkinabe Birthday

March 6, 2011 at 8:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I spent my first birthday here in Burkina.  Thankfully, a little Betty Crocker cake mix goes a long way.  I made about 6 shallow cake pans (baked in my metal serving plates) in my dutch oven.  I opened my couple care package gifts (birds of Detroit book sweet!)  and frosted the cakes.  Usually, if I bake or cook something american the people in my village tend to not like it.  But thankfully, the cake was a hit.  Which is good because it would have been too precious to waste on not liking


I had my birthday on a Saturday this year.  Saturdays are one of my favorite days because people just hang out together.  It was pretty chill.  I saw my first white crested helmet shrike!  I have been looking for that for a while.  So that was neat.



Is That Fanmilk I Hear??

March 6, 2011 at 6:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I got back into my village on January 2nd which was the second day of the traditional fête of my village. Many Mossi villages have this fête for the chief. People were coming from all over to say hi to him.

I was pretty tired from the voyage from Koudougou, but I hurried to
get back out to marché and see what ‘nabasga’ meant. I said hi to some
of my friends after being gone for a while ending at my friend’s drink
stand. We were just sitting there chatting when I heard the telltale
beep beep of the fanmilk man.

It was like I was five years old and heard a rustle in the chimney
Christmas eve night. Both Santa and the fanmilk man carry happiness
with them. Fanmilk is this delicious sweetened and vanilla flavored
milk that has been frozen. Fanchoco is also sold by this man but is
chocolate, obviously. It is the closest thing to icecream I found and
is much cheaper than the real stuff. But for nabasga, this magical
honking cart came to village.

Obviously it isn’t the focus of the fête but is pretty special because
usually it is only in the capital. Because I was travelling back from
Koudougou when the other fonctionairres (government workers like
nurses, teachers, and ag people) formally saluéed (Sal-u-ayed – like
greeted) I was not there. My counterpart brought me over later to pay
my wishes.

That is the first part of the fête. You say hi to the naba (chief).
The other part is the traditional celebration. Dancers in knotted blue
tops and hammered pieces of metal dangling from their belts jingle as
they dance the warba. A group of girls, a few of them my students, in
traditional wear with a choreographed dance and songs I couldn’t
understand in Mooré. Lots of women were selling little things on small
tables or cooking up samsa over a wood fire.

If I know anything, people know how to fete in my village. I went
around the next day with a couple of my friends. One of the lady’s
sons Thierry decided he was going to stop being scared of me and hold
my hand as we wove through the crowds. It was really fun to see the
traditional side of village. Good times.




“Tonight, I am not mom”

March 6, 2011 at 6:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For New years’s Sara and I went to visit our host family. At the end
of stage they promised they threw a mean party on the 31st. And after
living with them for a month, we believed them.

I arrived in town after a day of travelling. Bike, bush taxi and bus.
Never said it was easy. I walk into their house and our host mom is
wearing her dress she made with our family pagne. There was a big sign
that had Welcome home Katryn and Sara on brown butchers paper. Yea
that’s how a lot of people think my name is spelled.

I watched CNN. Monday night football NO and Atl I think it was. Having
somebody calling the game in french is almost as silly sounding as John Madden doing

The next day we were in our favorite marché city with our pagne man.
During stage he had my number and would call if he saw pagnes that fit
the specifications I gave him. We had a blast. Rumaging through a pile
of weird westarn scarves and squares of fabric, we discovered some
pretty neat fulards for ourselves and gifts. I found one with ducks. I
kept that one.

The next day was new years eve. In the morning all the girls in the
house were trying to get their hair done along with everybody else in
the city. So Sara and I were alone with our host brother Brice and a
West African travel book. Which you’d think would make this situation
great. Except some man showed up with 15 guinea fowl rigged onto his
moto. Have you ever seen 15 guinea fowl clucking on moto handlebars?
On top of that there was he matter of dealing with them. Host dad was
at work, ladies getting prettied up, all that was left was an 8 year
old boy and two whites. Which is exactly what guinea fowl man said
when he called our dad. There’s only an 8 year old boy and two whites.

Thankfully our host dad came home to pay the man. The guinea fowl
spent their last afternoon tied in groups of five under a shade tree.
As the shade moved, they scooched ensemble to stay away from the sun.
Call it a team building exercise. It was like the human knot. The
guinea fowl scooch. I doubt it will catch on.

We prepared food for lots of people, and ten o’clock rolled around and
the house was still prety empty. Our host dad had just arrived from
Ouagadougou. Our host mom had got home after probably a sum of fifteen
hours waiting to get her hair done but still wasn’t dressed. We were
confused. Shouldn’t people be getting ready to ring in the new year??

A bit before eleven, some of the extended family came over and mom
finally walked out, bottle of champagne in one hand and three fluted
glasses in the other. In tight red pants and a shiny red top. We had a
cheers, taught her how to open the bottle (Sara got some good distance
and got it way out of the courtyard) and after a glass she switched to
her favorite, her Johnny.

“Tonight, I am not mom.”

So the furniture was cleared out of the living room, the music on, and
the house filled up a bit after eleven. Some of the neighbors got a
little over the top with a whistle, but it was terrific. I learned the
warba (the Mossi dance), danced with a few of the little girls in our
courtyard, and as a whole had a terrific time.

Our host sister Melody was sneaking little sips of drinks throughout
the night, and she was exhausted by two. Being she sleeps in the lving
room and a neighbor was too busy yelling “jah is one” for her to
sleep. She passed out in Sara’s bed still in her party dress and her
fancy hair pinned and oiled. She is going to be just as sassy as her
tantie when she grows up.

New years day we slept into near ten. Lots of people came over to say
happy new year to the family. And all the time Melody was still
sleeping. The day was pretty relaxed like that and later that evening
the host family gave us paintings to thank us for our service and we
took some family photos.

It was a great new years. I feel like we really lucked out on host family.


Noël Noël!

March 6, 2011 at 6:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sorry these next couple of are delayed. Some technical difficulties.


Christmas has come and gone with it’s mass, pageant and celebrations. So what did I do, you ask. Good question. I shall tell you.

It started out on Christmas Eve. In the morning I hung out with a bunch of the women who were doing their hair and watching babies. I didn’t get my hair done, but I still helped. Cutting length of string to sew in their weave is as easy it looks. That afternoon I went to marché and helped a friend find some tres jolis tomatoes. There was food to be made!

Because Christmas Eve mass did not start until 9pm and I usualy go to bed before that, I had to nap in preparation. Yes, I meant 9pm. I started to leave my courtyard but the nurse there said hold on a second cupcake, it’s freezing tonight. I had to add a sweater and two shawls. People don’t seem to understand that cold is in my blood. Not this hot season that’s coming, though.

Church was packed. They put little scaled down hut with a manger scene infront. There were metallic streamers. Most of the service I did not understand but I did understand the play. For example when my brother ran around flapping his arms I understood it as the international symbol for angel. At the end, Mary crouched behind the altar (JR- my computer autocorrected my typo to agar haha ) and when she stood up she was holding baby Jesus.

I got home at amost exactly midnight. Just in time to sleep for a few hours before the 9am mass. I dressed in my Christmas pagne complet and found church nearly empty. I guess most people only go to the Christmas eve mass. The rest of the day was a flurry of plates of rice, calabashes of dolo the local beer, and a few gift exchanges. My aunt’s family sent candy canes and those little rubberband bracelets and those shred nicely with my friends’ children. This was my first Christmas I received onions as a gift. I didn’t miss home as much I thought I might. I was lucky enough to have my friends go out of their way to make sure it was terrific.


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